Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cats, snacks, and willpower - a light bulb moment!

Yesterday I had a semi-light-bulb moment. I was driving home from the gym, thinking about dinner, when it happened – bing! Light bulb.

You’ve read about my kitties– we have two now. Mac is older (my original baby) and rescue cat. He had a hard life before we got him and was quarantined for six months. Toby, also a rescue, was found in a barn before we adopted him from PetSmart.

Their little personalities are so funny and so different. Mac is our scaredy-cat. He’s extremely alert and usually wary, but very loving to anyone he gets to know. He jumps at loud noises, he hides under the bed when strangers are over, and regularly spends his days down in the basement away from any other interaction.

Toby, on the other hand, has been nicknamed “Toby the Terrible” in the 6 months we’ve had him. He is constantly in, on, under, or around everything. He steals food off your plate and rips the curtains to shreds. He’s constantly on the kitchen counter, but also just stares at your angelically like he can’t figure out why you’re unhappy with him.

Bear with me, non-cat people. I’m getting to the light bulb!

So – to recap. Mac: cautious, shy, curious. Toby: in your face (usually literally), loud (he purrs like a diesel engine), constant.

Here’s the thing: my cats pretty much perfectly represent my willpower and relationship with food – mainly sweets and snacks.

(BING. Light bulb.)

Mac is my willpower around these foods – standing in the shadows, carefully watching but not interacting, has to be lured out into the open. Toby is the food I don’t want or need – always around, always making itself known, always standing on my head and begging for attention. While the sweets and snacks are always around, calling my name, my willpower to avoid them is much more hesitant. When I’m not in control of it or carefully tending to it, it doesn’t come out, and then I give in to the snacks. I don’t want to, but the snacks are just so much more obvious and constant, and my willpower kind of shrinks back into the distance.

I am working on getting my diet back on track following the Thanksgiving / Christmas / birthday extravaganza. I’ve really been paying attention to what we’re making at home and what I’m consuming, but I have realized that it’s all the little things that don’t seem like much, but really add up, that tend to be my downfall. Yesterday, I was tempted in the office by the following things: a box of See’s chocolates, an open package of Oreos, a loaf of homemade banana bread, and Chicago-style popcorn someone brought straight from Chicago. None of those things really sounds so terrible individually, but, added together, a little bit of each turns into hundreds of extra calories that I don’t need or want. I needed my willpower in a big way, and I stuck to my guns and said “no, thank you” to each and every thing. At the end of the day, I wasn’t disappointed or missing any of those things – none were so special that I really needed to have it – but, in the past few months, normally I would have just gone ahead and snacked. No wonder I’ve got a few extra LBs that didn’t used to be there!

I love treats. I really do. Anyone who knows me, knows that the way to my heart is carbs and sugar. It is so hard for me to pass up candy / dessert / snacks – even when it not’s something that I will even really enjoy! I eat good food for my meals, but the mindless snacking in between is what inevitably does me in.

Willpower is a hard thing to have, for me, anyway. It’s hard to call upon, hard to maintain, and hard to remember to call out of the shadows. I don’t like to deprive myself or feel like I missed out on something, so it’s far easier for me to say yes to whatever is being passed my way – even if it’s something I normally wouldn’t eat. I’m working on making that part of me stronger and louder, and making more of an effort to coax it out and at least KIND OF silence the call of the snacks. Definitely easier said than done!

Back to the cats. I’m hoping that the sense of visualization that I’ve created for myself with this analogy will help me do better with willpower and saying no to foods that I don’t even really want to eat. When I think of my kitties, I tend to always think of Toby first, because he is the one who just always commands attention. It takes me a second, but then my sweet Mac comes to mind, standing a little ways back, not quite willing to walk into the situation. He’s always there, just not as fervently as Toby is. There’s my willpower – always there, just waiting to be called and noticed. I can say no! (even as there are blueberry scones and banana bread being passed around the office as we speak… dang it!)

How do you avoid snacking? Do you exercise strong willpower?Are you a "I forget to eat" person? I'm not. How do you do it?!


Caitlin said...

Love this post so much, and love that analogy. Reminds me of our kitties! Pippa is IN YO FACE, while Oliver is there when you need them and needs love, but will take it when you can give it to him.

Stephanie @ My Freckled Life said...

Love the analogy!! I have such a hard time with willpower sometimes too! If I am following a plan, then I can usually stick to it. But if it's something like "I'm going to eat healthier", then once the cookies come out, my willpower is gone. And all those little snacks keep adding up!

Aileen Metcalf said...

Yes, I totally love this analogy. It couldn't be more true!